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Pre-Dental Preparation

Freshman Checklist

  • Meet with your pre-health advisor and your academic advisor
  • Begin basic science courses
  • Join campus student organizations
  • Get tutoring if you need it!
  • Subscribe to and read science journals and/or news magazines
  • Seek and begin volunteer/ community experience (and continue throughout undergraduate years)

Sophomore Checklist

  • Choose a major (if you haven't already done so)
  • Explore all health career options
  • Start becoming familiar with requirements for various programs
  • Seek summer internships or research experience
  • Research schools in which you are interested, see "Web sites" listed below in this sidebar for a good start

Junior Checklist

  • Attend the University Professional and Graduate School Fair
  • Make a list of schools you are interested in and research them thoroughly
  • Find out the earliest date to submit an application
  • Take appropriate entrance exam
  • Reality check: What are your chances?
    • GPA:
    • Activities:
    • Scores:
  • Apply to schools (anytime from late spring through mid fall) Consider taking valuable electives: Biochemistry, Genetics, Communication, Microbiology, Ethics, Foreign Language
  • Ask people to write letters of recommendation
  • Investigate WICHE opportunities

Senior Checklist

  • Retake entrance exam, if necessary
  • Confirm that you meet graduation requirements
  • Ask people to write letters of recommendation
  • Complete secondary applications if necessary
  • Prepare for interviews
  • Apply for WICHE if applicable
  • Confirm your commitment
  • Seek honors & scholarships for graduate school
  • Send appropriate people thank you notes and inform them of your success or future plans

Web Sites

Miscellaneous Checklist

  • Experience - throughout your time in college you should be getting health care experience and exposure in a variety of settings.
  • Extracurricular activities - health profession schools like to see people who are interested and involved in their campus and local communities.
  • Conduct research with faculty on campus.
  • Develop the ability to read, write and think - science is only one part of health care.
  • Consider seeking leadership positions in organizations in which you are involved.

Investigating Dentistry

The dental profession is dedicated to maintaining the health of teeth, gums and other hard and soft tissue of the oral cavity. In addition to providing direct care, dentists can also teach, conduct research and work in public and international health. Dentists can also perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum disease, as well as extract teeth and make models and measurements for dentures. They also administer anesthetics, write prescriptions for certain medications, and oversee the operation of their business if they are in private practice.


You can major in any undergraduate degree program provided you include the required pre-dental prerequisite courses in your curriculum. Students must prepare themselves with a basic background in chemistry, physics, mathematics and biology as well as the social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities. Beyond this basic preparation, you should choose a major in what interests you. Students are advised to consult with the Pre-Professional School advisor at each stage of dental school preparation and the application process; assistance is available through individual advising sessions, workshops, mock interviews, and personal statement critiques. a

Course Requirements

Requirements vary by school but the following courses are generally required. For specific requirements see the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools which can be found on their website at It is the applicant's responsibility to determine the specific requirements of each program to which they are applying. If courses are repeated, both grades go into your AADSAS GPA. (All required courses should be taken for a letter grade.

  • General Chemistry: 1 year with lab (Chem 121, 122)
  • Organic Chemistry: 1 year with lab (Chem 241/242/345 or 341/342/345)
  • Physics: 1 year with lab (Physics 151, 152)
  • Biology: One year of biology with lab
  • English: 1 year (English 101,102)
  • Psychology: 1 semester (Psychology 101)

Additional recommended courses : Microbiology, Anatomy & Physiology, Genetics, Immunology, Introduction to Biochemistry, Statistics, Speech, Calculus, Art and Sculpture. DAT:The Dental Admission Test is a comprehensive examination administered on computers at the Sylvan Learning Center/Prometric Testing Services throughout the US. Candidates may schedule a test date on almost any day, and your test scores are available immediately. You should plan to take the DAT before you apply, but you should not delay submission of your application simply because DAT scores are not in. The DAT consists of sections in biology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, reading comprehension, perceptual ability and quantitative reasoning. In addition to these sections you are given an overall science score and an academic average. The actual test time is approximately 4 hours. The application is available. You should take the examination the year before you plan to enter dental school.

Extracurricular Activities

Clinical experience is required for admission to just about all dental schools. It does not matter if the student was paid or a volunteer; admission committees want to know that an applicant can work effectively in a health care environment. It is also important for a competitive applicant to have participated in extracurricular activities. Often students must support themselves financially and work becomes their primary extracurricular activity. However, it is important that students also become involved in community and campus service, organized sports, research, personal interests - all can be important in the admission process. It is very important that you have some type of dental experience whether it is observational or actual work for a dentist. Dental schools want to be certain that you have knowledge of the field.

Application Process

Most dental schools belong to a centralized application service: The American Association of Dental School Application Service (AADSAS), which allows you to apply through one initial application. Applications are available on the AADSAS website, the beginning of May. You can obtain applications from non-AADSAS schools by contacting them directly. Applications can be submitted beginning June 1stand it is recommended that applications be submitted as early as possible. The service AADSAS provides is to verify transcripts, and forward your application and letters of recommendation to the dental schools to which you are applying. Secondary applications, or "secondaries," are requests by AADSAS schools for additional information and fees. Some schools require that you submit the secondary shortly after you send in the AADSAS application; other schools do not want you to send the secondary until they notify you to do so. You will find complete instructions in the AADSAS application materials. For non-AADSAS schools there is just a single application. The final stage of the application process is the personal interview. If a school offers you an interview it means they are seriously considering you.

Letters of Recommendation

All dental schools require letters of recommendation, usually 1-2 from science faculty and one from a dentist. The time to submit the letters will vary, so it is best to check the instructions of each school to which you are applying. AADSAS offers a Letters of Recommendation Service.

You may also consider storing your letters with a document collection and delivery service such as Interfolio. With the use of Interfolio your letters can be kept on file for multiple years and delivered to the programs you are applying to at your convenience. Students can learn more about the service at Interfolio.

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